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Vol 2, No 24
19 June 2000
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News from Serbia
All the important news
since 11 June 2000

Crna Gora Medija Klub and Pat FitzPatrick

Attempt on Drašković's life

Vuk Drašković, controversial president of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), was said to be recovering well from injuries he sustained during an attempted assassination just after midnight on Thursday at his coastal retreat home in Budva, Montenegro, approximately 25 miles southwest of Podgorica.

The Podgorica daily Pobjeda reported that three assailants fired at least five rounds at Drašković, wounding his left temple and his right ear, while international media speculated that "many rounds from automatic weapons" had been fired, noting that his house was "riddled" with bullet holes.

Drašković was given emergency first aid after apparently escaping his home through a back door and was then rushed to a local hospital. According to Ognjen Pribičević, a top advisor to the SPO leader, Drašković was released from hospital an hour and a half later and was "resting comfortably" at an undisclosed location.

Pribičević said Drašković was watching television when the attack occurred, although Budva police officials said that Drašković was leaving his flat when the gunmen opened fire from the terrace of his home.

The attack came despite heavy security that was to have been provided by Montenegrin police in the wake of the arrest of Drašković's personal security detail following his return from a visit to Russia on 31 May.

Montenegrin police have cordoned off all avenues into and out of Budva, and announced early Friday afternoon that they had detained "several persons" in connection with the attempted assassination.

The Friday morning assault was the second apparent attempt on Drašković's life. On 3 October 1999, an unknown assailant slammed into his motorcade, killing four persons including his brother-in-law, who was one of his top advisors. While Drašković claimed this earlier incident to have been an attempt on his life by forces close to President Slobodan Milošević, a regime investigation claimed it had been an accident, although several questions surrounding the affair remain unsolved.


Peng gets Belgrade gong

Li Peng, China's number two leader, received the Order of the Great Star of Yugoslavia during his three-day visit to Belgrade this past week. Peng was awarded the honour at Beli Dvor (the White Castle) prior to a state dinner with Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević and his wife, Mira Marković.

During his visit Peng, President of the Permanent Committee of the Pan-Chinese National Congress, spoke at a joint session of the Yugoslav houses of parliament, where he noted the "traditional friendship between our two countries." Meanwhile, Peng and Milošević released a joint statement Monday condemning the "West's" attempts to impose a "unipolar world order," claiming that NATO is sanctioning "genocide against the Serbian people" in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, a delegation from Vuk Drašković's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) was in China for talks with governmental and business leaders in Beijing and Shanghai. The delegation was headed by Belgrade Mayor and SPO member Vojislav Mihajlović.

Bilateral relations between Beijing and Belgrade have strengthened since last year's bombing of the Chinese embassy in the Serbian capital by NATO warplanes, and Chinese tourists are now common throughout Serbia.


Otpor defence withdraws from "unfair trial"

Defence lawyers in the case against two Otpor (Resistance) members and a lawyer charged with the attempted murder of Marko Milošević, a Serbian nightclub and theme park owner and son of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, have withdrawn from the case in protest against what they have called an unfair trial.

The defence team's move came after the President of the Požarevac Municipal Court refused to demand the recusal of Milan Bojić, the presiding judge in the case. Defence lawyer Borivoje Borović had asked that Bojić be disqualified from hearing the case because he is a member of the Yugoslav United Left (JUL), the political party run by Mira Marković, wife of the Yugoslav president and mother of the alleged victim.

In a statement for Radio B2-92 following the withdrawal, defence counsel Ivan Primović noted that he and his colleagues were also protesting against the fact that one of the accused, Radojko Ljuković, had been denied medical attention in jail, having suffered severe injuries in a prior police beating.

The accused stand charged with having attempted to murder Marko Milošević in a fight outside one of his nightclubs.

The regime recently began a nation-wide crackdown on Otpor, its activities and members. Radio B2-92 reported Friday that "around a dozen" Otpor activists were detained Thursday in Kraljevo, Bela, Crkva, Arilje and Priot. All were reported to have been released after questioning.


SPO replacements sworn in

Twenty new members of the Serbian parliament were sworn in this week as replacements for 20 Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) deputies who lost their seats following a boycott of the body's 3 May session. Meanwhile, Gorica Gajević was elected deputy parliamentary president.


Monument to "victims of NATO aggression"

Serbian President Milan Milutinović unveiled a monument complete with an eternal flame to commemorate the "victims of NATO aggression" on Monday 12 June.

In a prepared speech, Milutinović said "NATO aggression is being continued by pressure, terrorism and interference in the internal affairs of our country in order to achieve goals that were not met by air raids."

The fact of Serbia's "victory" in the conflict, he added, "makes helpless those in our country who are trying to excuse the crimes of the aggressor, and who have forgotten that freedom is not an object to be bought and sold," a clear reference to Otpor and other groups opposed to the regime.


Serbia on brink of "humanitarian disaster"

Democratic Party critic Radomir Popović said this week that the agricultural sector in Serbia is "approaching a humanitarian disaster." At a press conference in Belgrade, Popović warned that should the current heat wave in Serbia continue, "the FRY will have to import food for next year," noting that supplies of flour, sugar, oil and other foodstuffs would run short.

Meanwhile, the Vojvodina NGO Banatski Forum warned federal Agriculture Minister Nedeljko Sipović that his group will call on farmers to boycott the harvest of grain if the ministry does not correct the artificially low price of wheat.


Opposition "unites" in Belgrade without SPO

At a meeting in Belgrade this week, opposition parties established a group of experts to devise a coordinated strategy for dealing with forthcoming elections. Those in attendance included major opposition parties, including Zoran Đinđić's Democratic Party, local NGOs, trade unions and the student-led Otpor resistance group.

Conspicuously absent was Vuk Drašković's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), which later in the week denied that it had plans to boycott possible elections.


Only 4.5% of bomb damage repaired

Miroljub Labus, the president of the Serbian G17 Plus group of economic experts, told Yugoslav media this week that only 4.5 percent of the damage inflicted by NATO bombs last year had been repaired, adding that the damage estimate stands at USD 4 billion.

Although Serbia is not a member of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, its chair Bodo Hombah agreed to a G17 Plus request that a donor's conference for the reconstruction of Serbia in the post-Milošević period be added to the agenda at this week's Pact meeting in Thessaloníki.

The G17 Plus request was backed by some 20 opposition parties.


Russian petroleum deliveries to resume?

Although deliveries of gas and other petroleum products from Russia were halted on 1 June due to unpaid bills, Serbian Republic Minister of Energy officials said this week that negotiations currently underway should ensure the resumption of deliveries by early or mid July.


Journos unite against repression

The first meeting of a co-ordinating committee established to protect journalists from regime repression and harassment met for the first time on Thursday night in Novi Sad, Radio B2-92 reports. In total, some 18 local reporters were joined by international correspondents to discuss means of physically and legally protecting journalists and their offices against repression by state bodies and rogue elements loyal to the Milošević regime.

Crna Gora Medija Klub and Pat FitzPatrick,
19 June 2000

Editor's note:

Central Europe Review is pleased to announce its new partnership with the independent Crna Gora Medija Klub. Beginning with this week's report, CER readers will have access to independent, high quality news from Serbia and Montenegro based on Medija Klub reports and additional updates by CER staff.

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